IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


28th July, 2023 Geography

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A project aimed at restoring seagrass meadows in the Baltic Sea, particularly off the coast of Kiel in northern Germany.


  • Scuba divers off the coast of Kiel, northern Germany, involved in a new project to restore seagrass meadows.
  • Seagrass meadows act as natural carbon sinks, but they have declined due to worsening water quality.
  • The SeaStore Seagrass Restoration Project aims to train citizens to restore seagrass meadows autonomously.

Benefits of Seagrass Meadows

  • Seagrasses store more carbon dioxide (CO2) per square mile than forests on land, acting as vital carbon sinks.
  • They support fisheries and protect coastlines from erosion.

Loss of Seagrass Areas in Europe

  • Europe has lost one third of its seagrass areas between the 1860s and 2016, contributing to carbon release and global warming.

The SeaStore Seagrass Restoration Project

  • Led by Angela Stevenson from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research.
  • First initiative allowing citizens to restore seagrass meadows autonomously.
  • A weekend course for divers and land volunteers to learn planting techniques.
  • 2,500 plants were planted during the first course in July.

The Vision and Challenges

  • The ultimate goal is to re-green the Baltic Sea through large-scale restoration.
  • Research on seagrass resilience to temperature rises.
  • Efforts to breed more heat-resistant seagrass strains.
  • Experimenting with alternative methods of restoration using seeds.

Laborious Restoration Process

  • Current approach requires a large number of divers planting shoots for an extended period.
  • Estimated half a million divers, working for an entire year, needed to restore lost seagrass in the Baltic Sea along Germany's coast.
  • Despite efforts, it would only account for a small fraction of German emissions.

Future Possibilities

  • The team is exploring new technologies for artificial carbon removal.
  • Advocating for nature-based solutions to carbon storage through seagrass meadows.

About Baltic Sea

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  • The Baltic Sea is a brackish inland sea located in Northern Europe.
  • It is surrounded by several countries, including Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and Denmark.
  • The sea connects with the North Sea through the narrow Danish Straits, including the Great Belt, the Little Belt, and the Oresund.

Geography and Extent

  • The Baltic Sea covers an area of approximately 377,000 square kilometers.
  • It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 55 meters and a maximum depth of around 459 meters in the Stockholm Archipelago.
  • The coastline of the Baltic Sea is characterized by numerous bays, islands, and peninsulas.

Ecology and Environment

  • The Baltic Sea is unique due to its brackish nature, resulting from a mix of fresh and saltwater.
  • The sea is home to diverse marine ecosystems, including seagrass meadows, rocky shores, and sandy bottoms.
  • However, it faces significant environmental challenges, including eutrophication, caused by excessive nutrient runoff from agriculture and urban areas, leading to harmful algal blooms and oxygen depletion in some areas.

Shipping and Trade

  • The Baltic Sea has been a vital waterway for shipping and trade for centuries.
  • Several major ports, such as Hamburg, Gdansk, Stockholm, and Helsinki, are located along its coast, facilitating international trade and commerce.
  • The sea is also used for ferry services, connecting various Baltic countries and facilitating passenger transportation.

Marine Resources and Fisheries

  • The Baltic Sea supports valuable fisheries, including herring, cod, salmon, and sprat, which are essential for the region's food security and economy.
  • Overfishing and environmental degradation pose threats to fish stocks and sustainable fisheries management.

Tourism and Recreation

  • The Baltic Sea attracts tourists and visitors from neighboring countries and beyond.
  • Coastal regions offer opportunities for various recreational activities, such as sailing, boating, fishing, and beach vacations.
  • The sea's archipelagos and coastal landscapes are popular destinations for nature enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts.

Environmental Conservation and Cooperation

  • The Baltic Sea region is a hub for international cooperation and initiatives to address environmental challenges.
  • Countries in the region work together to combat pollution, improve water quality, and promote sustainable resource management through organizations like the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM).

Historical and Cultural Significance

  • The Baltic Sea has played a crucial role in the history and culture of the countries surrounding it.
  • It has been a trade route, a site of naval battles, and a source of inspiration for literature, art, and folklore.
  • The sea's maritime heritage is preserved through museums, historical sites, and traditional practices.


Q) Discuss how international cooperation among Baltic Sea countries further enhances its preservation. (150 words).